The Strange One (1957) 1080p

Movie Poster
The Strange One (1957) 1080p bluray - Movie Poster
Drama | Film-Noir
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
English 2.0  
Run Time:
100 min
IMDB Rating:
6.9 / 10 
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Directors: Jack Garfein [Director] ,

Movie Description:
Jocko De Paris, cadet leader in a Southern military academy, so manipulates events that George Avery, Jr., son of the school's executive officer, is found drunk and expelled. Through various pressures, Jocko silences such involuntary accomplices as his roommate Harold Koble, football star Roger Gatt and freshmen Robert Marquales and Maynard Simmons, a girl-fearing cadet whom Jocko terrorizes into dating Rosebud, a town girl.


  • The Strange One (1957) 1080p bluray - Movie Scene 1
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  • The Strange One (1957) 1080p bluray - Movie Scene 1

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This is what happens when jokes, bullying and fun get out of hand and abuse takes its place in the world of a military cadet school. Considered to be a privilege to attend such a school the stress of the orderly environment is offset with hazing that gets carried away and results in hurt, pain and unintended bad memories with results. The fact is there is always someone that bucks the system in everything everywhere but the question is not whether they exist but how far they will go. You see dysfunctional behavior after a while becomes addicting and then one of the most disrespected but immovable Universal Laws kick-in: Whatever you get into gets into you. No one can escape this law as it is not a respecter of persons. Here we have the main actor digging a slow deep hole and using his wits to delay retribution or even try to get away with the nefarious deeds. But he doesn't know about the Universal Law but he will. This has one of the best comeuppance scenes and endings that exist out there making the viewer wonder what they would have done if they were this guy or the guys that suffered under him. The stakes are nothing less than careers! Who hasn't done a prank or two? Who hasn't gotten away with it? Who can deny that uncomfortable but at the same time exciting high one gets in the moment? It is only to be followed with the Mother of payback maybe not now or near by but you can expect it guaranteed. Here we see it for what it is. Enjoy a snack and a tasty drink while watching and see some of the early acting careers of mature actors out there when they first got started.

So much of the content is intimated, touched upon, that the final result feels half-empty...

Not an easy picture to dissect. Director Jack Garfein's first film, an adaptation of Calder Willingham's novel and play "End as a Man", scripted by Willingham, is rather like "The Lord of the Flies" as filtered through the Actor's Studio. Military college cadet Ben Gazzara intimidates his roommate and the terrified freshman class after instigating the beating of a rival; seems he's such a proficient con-artist, he makes the unprovoked attack look like a one-man drunken rampage and gets the unfortunate kid expelled. Despite Willingham's penchant for high-flown prose (especially in regards to Gazzara's bully, who talks like he's been hustling on the streets of New York City for 40 years), this is an extremely well-crafted, well-acted psychological drama, though the movie ultimately lacks punch because the plot is just a series of quick hits on the viewer. Willingham and Garfein want to make several important points and observations, but the restraints of the era seem to have the filmmakers tied up in knots. None of this explains how Gazzara so easily demoralizes everyone with a few well-chosen words and stern expressions, or how he manages to get even his superior (the victim's own father!) stammering with exasperation. The third act of the film is drawn out for very little purpose; instead of getting a substantial look into these complex personalities, we're offered a showy revenge fantasy. These hysterics are useless and, ultimately, irrelevant. ** from ****

One of the great 'lost' films.

Jack Garfein made "The Strange One" in 1957. It was adapted by Calder Willingham from first his novel and then his play "End as a Man". Actually the title "The Strange One" doesn't really do it justice; a better, if somewhat declamatory, title might have been 'The Evil One' since its central protagonist, Jocko De Paris, is one of the most sadistic and warped anti-heroes in all of fiction. The setting is a military academy in the Deep South and Jocko is cock of the walk. He rules with a combination of charm and viciousness but it all goes belly-up for him when he targets a young cadet and his father, who happens to be an officer there. His scheme involves four other cadets whose fear of him he's counting on. It's a melodramatic scenario that culminates in a bravura, sustained passage of mounting hysteria but it's brilliant in the way that the best of Tennessee Williams or William Inge are brilliant. Willingham's dialogue has the ring of poetry to it and Garfein, whose first film this was, (he's only made one since), directs it superbly.

Of course, it would have been nothing were it not for its cast, many of whom were totally unknown at the time. Ben Gazzara may already have been a star on the New York stage, (he was Brick in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"), but was an unknown quantity in the movies, (it was also his first film). His performance as Jocko should have made him a much bigger star than he ever became and it remains a career-best performance. Those who fall under his spell include Pat Hingle, James Olson, Arthur Storch and George Peppard. They are all terrific; Peppard, also making his screen debut, shows real promise and Hingle in outstanding.

There's also one overtly gay character, (though the whole picture is suffused with homo-eroticism), a cadet who fancies himself a writer and who is obviously in love with Jocko. He's played by Paul Richards as a grotesque and flamboyant queen, part Truman Capote and part Gore Vidal. In any other film this character would be offensively out of place but here he's just one more poisonous plant in this insidious hothouse. The film wasn't successful and is almost impossible to see now, at least here in the UK but it's a masterpiece and one of the best American films of the fifties. Essential.
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